Wednesday, June 24, 2015


The legislature was shocked to see the gravity on one unintended consequence they did not project. When they realized the cost of loss of volunteers due to the fees, they diverted the cost of the background checks to the taxpayers. 

The executive pastor at a church where a homeschool co-op meets has been working closely with the church's lawyers on the effects of Act 153. He believes that the background checks will unfairly disqualify individuals who have criminal records. Here is what he wrote regarding his concerns when a mom shared the fee waiver announcement with him.  

"That is indeed good news. Much more clarity is needed as to WHO these things apply to as well as thinking clearly about what kind of offenses would disqualify you from working with children. For example, aggravated assault. Break a bottle in a bar fight and you can be convicted of that when you are 21. Does that really mean you shouldn’t be able to work with kids 20 years later? What if you mooned someone as a high school prank and were convicted of indecent exposure. Guess what, 30-40 years later, you fail background checks.  I’m grateful they are revising the law, I just hope they go far enough."   
"It is astonishing to me they included 'indecent exposure' as a disqualifying offense on equal par with rape and murder of children. But in this law they are treated exactly the same. Likewise, aggravated assault. In my pursuit of information I engaged legal council who talked with the office of children and youth directly and, essentially, anyone with any of these convictions cannot ever work anywhere where they would ever have contact with children. Like McDonalds. Really?
"In essence, the way this current law is written, a crime punishable by a $100 fine (misdemeanor indecent exposure) is now equal to one that earns a life sentence (rape and murder of a child)."
These examples demonstrate that our legislature needs to consider that not every criminal offender is predatory. We need to make our legislators do diligent work before making omnibus legislations such as Act 153 because it sure seems like they are creating a hostile environment and a dangerous child abuse hysteria.

A man was charged with indecent exposure for urinating outside of a rest stop when he was an older teen. The line for the bathroom was too long and he really had to go, so he picked out a tree.  This is not what I would consider appropriate, but it certainly doesn't indicate he is a danger to children. If he was "caught" in Pennsylvania, he would be barred from his own children's activities.

Because these changes expand the definition of "mandatory reporter," volunteers who are not trained to recognize abuse or neglect will be legally liable if they fail to report a "reasonable suspicion" of child abuse. There is already an abundance of reports made each year that are unfounded.  Unfounded reports increase the workload for social workers who are charged with the responsibility of helping abused children.

One Pennsylvania family I personally know was hotlined a few years ago with the allegation they had no food in their home - the person making the report "saw the family at the grocery store" and figured they must not have food.  The report was unfounded, but these are the kinds of situations that divert necessary resources away from children who are genuinely in need of help.  Statistically, around 7 out of 10 reports are unfounded now, and these changes will only increase those numbers, placing abused children at greater risk of being "missed" by the system.

Requiring untrained citizens to report anything suspicious (or face penalties) will flood an already over-worked system, placing demands on social workers to investigate baseless complaints, while children who are truly abused slip through the cracks.  Unless the legislature is prepared to substantially increase the size of Children and Youth Services, these changes (though well-intentioned) will increase the number of abused children who will not receive help due to lack of resources.

Additionally, the person making the report has the right to obtain information about the outcome of the investigation.  While at first this may seem reasonable, there are a number of concerns that have been raised.  Is the person making the report bound by the same confidentiality laws as Children and Youth Services?
Will perpetrators of domestic violence be able to make false reports and gain access to information about the investigation that will put the victim (and children) in danger?  Will the state be required to take action against people who make repeated false reports against a family?  How will the state protect children from being harassed, or investigated repeatedly, when reporters are upset their report was "unfounded"?  How will children's private medical and educational records be protected?  

The mandatory background checks for parent-volunteers will likely lead to a decrease in opportunities for children when parents have a criminal history - even if it is not one that would ban them from being involved, as many parents will not want their friends to know about their backgrounds. For example, if a parent is convicted of stealing money from his employer during a time of hardship, that would not disqualify that parent from participating, but would likely lead to a change in how parents interact with that family.

They also need to realize that they are discouraging acts of service and child enrichment when they automatically criminalize us and gives us the burden of proof to show ourselves innocent before we can serve other children. 

ACTION STEPS to mainstream our efforts:

1 - Call your local State Senator and voice your complaint that -

          a. The law will increase unfounded reports by turning untrained volunteers into mandatory reporters.

          b. Unfounded reports harm innocent families.

          c. Unfounded reports divert resources away from abused children who need help.

          d. There is no protection for victims of domestic violence when their abuser reports them, and can then obtain information about the outcome of the report.

          e. There is no requirement that the department establish procedures for prosecuting false and malicious reports.

          f. There are no provisions to require additional training for mandatory reporters who (in good faith) make repeated unfounded reports.

          g. This law is intrusive, accusatory and oppressive

          h. Compliance to this law makes for a hostile environment

Ask him/her to amend it with text that exclude homeschool co-ops where parents teach and stay on site.

2 - Call everyone in the Senate leadership. We need them to clearly amend Act 153 of 2014 via HB1276 with text that protect parental rights and exempt co-ops where parents teach and stay on site with their own children.

3 - Help spread awareness to the issue by sharing this blog post and encourage others to action to protect parental rights, to protect our families, and to protect our religious rights and freedom of assembly.

Monday, June 22, 2015


"After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, 'Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.'"
Nehemiah 4:14 (NIV)

* * *

We are calling on all state homeschooling believers of God
and followers of Jesus Christ to attend

on September 8, 2015, 10:00 AM - 12:00 noon,
at the State Capitol Main Rotunda

We will gather to worship, encourage and pray -
for one another and for our legislators.
We will commit our nation, state, church, and families to our
Almighty God Who alone is able to save and deliver us.
After spending time in corporate prayer, we will lobby our lawmakers.

 We are blessed to have the following speakers update, challenge, and encourage us:

Carolyn Conner
Union County homeschooler and adoptive parent of six children with her husband Ron

Steve Davies
Homeschooler, Convention of States PA State Director

David Miranda
Homeschooler, National Grassroots Director for

Our country, our state, our churches, and our homes are in crisis. Our western civilization is dying along with the values that made America great. Recent events in the news have been beyond appalling. We desperately need revival in our land.

This sense of helplessness has led us to believe that perhaps we need to focus on the most powerful authority - our Almighty God - and lobby Him concerning our woes.

Charles Grandison Finney, probably the greatest revival preacher there ever was said, "There are two kinds of means requisite to promote a revival: the one to influence men, the other to influence God. The truth is employed to influence men, and prayer to move God."

Will you join CHAP HELP Day, our Home Education Lobby Program, as we assemble to pray?

Scriptures instruct:

"I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving
be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live
peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."
I Timothy 2:1,2

We need to do exactly that.

 * * *

S O M E   I N S T R U C T I O N S   &   D E T A I L S :

Driving directions are here and parking directions are here.

To sign up send an email to include your name, complete address, your legislative district (if known), and the number of adults and children attending. CHAP will issue a Certificate of Attendance for your students' portfolio.

Driving directions are here. All visitors will be processed through metal detectors. It is best to come in through the Capitol steps along 3rd Street which leads right onto the Main Rotunda. 

CHAP will have tables and kiosk where you can sign in. It is our way of knowing that you participated, and that someone reached out to your legislator, or whoever was assigned to you and your family to lobby. 

At the end of the CHAP Prayer Rally, everyone is encouraged to meet with your local Representative and/or Senator concerning legislations that we ask them to vote on and pass. But first, we would like to take a group picture to remember your visit. Please help us assemble for a snappy shot at the steps. 

CHAP will have folders of information to assist you in reaching out to your lawmakers concerning the Pennsylvania Parental Rights Protection Act (HB1512) and Convention of States (HR63). We are also giving key members a copy of the video, Overruled. If you're not familiar with it, there are several clips on youtube like this one

For lunch, you have the option of packing food for your family and eating by the cafeteria on the East Wing rotunda. Food is pricey but is also available for purchase.   

If you have questions, you may email
You may also post it on the event page on facebook.

* * * * * * *

Sunday, June 14, 2015


seek an exemption for situations when parents 
remain on-site with their children - at a bare minimum

House Bill 1276 was sponsored by Representative Katharine Watson. Contact her and/or her staff and urge her to make an exemption for situations when parents remain on-site with their children. Ask them to protects parental rights. 

Visiting her office is the most effective way to reach out to her, then calling her. The third is emailing her at Concerns may also be directed to her staffer, Loreen, at

Hon. Katharine M. Watson 
41A East Wing
PO Box 202144
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2144 
(717) 787-5452 
Fax: (717) 783-8934

Hon. Katharine M. Watson
1432 Easton Road 
Suite 4-I
Warrington, PA 18976
(215) 343-8090 
Fax: (215) 343-8150

Secondly, contact the rest of the members of Children and Youth Committee, particularly, Representative Dan Moul, co-sponsor of HB1276 and prime sponsor of last session's HB435 which is now Act 153 of 2014. He was in the news playing politics with the families of the Commonwealth when the welfare of our children is on the line. His email is

Hon. Dan Moul 
G32 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202091
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2091 
(717) 783-5217  
Fax: (717) 772-5499

Hon. Dan Moul
30 West Middle Street
Gettysburg, PA 17325

(717) 334-3010 
(866) 646-4915 
Fax: (717) 334-8426

Understand why we cannot allow Act 153 to stay as is here and here.  

Third, complain to your local legislators because s/he probably voted for it. Remind them that Sandusky passed background checks. Inform and challenge them to do their research because abuse is prevalent in the public school system where everyone passes the background checks.  

From Ninette Jackson's facebook status who is a lawyer and a homeschool mom:

"As many of you know there is a lot of confusion in churches and homeschool networks (including co-ops) over Act 153 and its requirement for background checks and CPS education as to when and how to report for volunteers. There is a concern about volunteers and parents being unduly burdened. If you agree, I think it would be prudent to call your representatives today and request an exemption for situations during which parents remain on-site with their child. That exemption is clear, concise and protect parental rights. There is a push to repeal the law as well, which I think - unfortunately - is great but unlikely in the current political environment. We can, however, ask for that as well as asking if Act 153 remains that it be amended to add the exemption The amendments are being discussed today and the one currently on the table (HB 1276) is VERY poorly written and may well be worse than the actual law."


by Katie S. Walker, New Holland, PA 

Please call your legislators using the information found here.  House Bill 1276 - purported to soften, but in reality expands Act 153 of 2014's reach - is scheduled to be debated Monday, June 15, 2015.  Below is a sample of talking points regarding HB1276. Please pick 2-3 points which are important to you and help flood our legislators with letters, calls, e-mails and face-to-face office visits demanding lawmakers revoke mandatory child clearances and allow organizations to operate as their independent board deems necessary and prudent. House Bill 1276 is found in entirety here and can be read by clicking on the PDF. Further talking points can be found here, and on Facebook, click here and like PA Act 153 of 2014. 

I am deeply troubled by the intrusiveness of Act 153  requiring child clearances for broad sweeping number of volunteers and paid employees. House Bill 1276 purports to “fix” and “clarify” Act 153. In reality it gives token acknowledgment to the roar of anger and deep rooted grumbling throughout Pennsylvania while at the same time expanding Act 153’s strangling grip on person’s working with children. 

While giving token acknowledgement to the ridiculous criterion for teens (whose records as minors are protected already) to have clearances, Page 5 Line 27-29 removes language allowing a volunteer or employee to accept responsibility for a child to insisting that any volunteer or employee remotely connected to the event “is a person responsible for the child’s welfare.” Other language also expands, not narrows, even usurping parental supervision. 

House Bill 1276 continues to
  1)      Violate separation of church from state interference and violate an individual’s right to assemble and organize in a manner they deem in good conduct and honor. Under this law, innocent organizers of lawfully organized and conducted assemblies will be prosecuted if child clearance “t’s” and “I’s” are not crossed and dotted. Page 5 Line 4 encompasses social gatherings, i.e. a family that hosts a small group gathering in their home. 
  2)      Violate due process.  All paid and/ or unpaid members working with children are deemed abusers until they produce paperwork showing innocence. 
  3)      Drowns an already ineffective social service system with increased, false leads from mandatory, gestapo “just report” trained reporters. 
  4)      Drowns organizations serving children with excessive paperwork and burdensome fees.  Governor Wolf’s financial reprieve is TEMPORARY and based on funding – taxpayer funding.  The government paying for the clearances is just a paperwork shuffle of taxpayer money allocation.  House Bill 1276 returns the direct fee burden to organizations. 

Department of Human Services, 512,853 applications for child abuse clearances were received between January and May of 2015. At approximately $20/ person (many clearances costs were much higher due to FBI fingerprinting!), the cost of child clearance paperwork already spent in the 2015 year and excluding the high volume month of June with the July 1, 2015 deadline approaching is approximately 10 million dollar – a low estimate and will continue to rise. Of these ½ million applications 8 parties were found to be perpetrators. Other laws already on the books already disqualify offenders from jobs and volunteer positions. 

I care about my children and my neighbor’s children. Pennsylvania legislators just spent 10 million dollars shuffling paperwork and violating Pennsylvanian’s right to a fair trial, to assemble, and to organize according to their religious conscious. 10 million dollars would go a long way to fund emergency services, such as but not limited to volunteer firemen, camps, fine arts programs, libraries, schools, and churches proven to use methods not just preventing child abuse, but raising healthy children and families.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


by Alice Nelson
Lancaster County

Breaking news:  The governor announced that the fees for PA Clearances 
will be waived for volunteers. Lifting the financial burden on individuals will be helpful to organizations struggling to comply, but it does not fix the most egregious problems with law.  Please do not let the recovering of $20 (or $50) in your personal wallet 
persuade you to ignore the greater harm of Act 153.

After the Penn State Child Abuse Scandal horrified the nation, lawmakers rightly wanted to “do something” to protect children from predators like Sandusky.  Part of that “something” was Act 153 which expanded background check requirements and broadened the definition of mandatory reporters.   In an impressive display of bipartisanship, Act 153 passed the Senate unanimously and passed the House with a 175 to 19 majority. Either those 19 dissenters in the House were child-haters, or they recognized that their colleagues were shirking their duty by letting this sloppy piece of legislation slide though on the grease of good-intentions.

So, what’s wrong with Act 153?
I’ll say it again…it’s sloppy. 

                Precise, clear, written laws are essential to our democracy. Lawyers advise their clients based on what the law actually says, not on what he/she thinks the lawmakers meant. That is why boy scouts will be requiring background clearances from parents who simply accompany their own sons to den meetings. Is that what our lawmakers intended? I don’t think so, but it is what they wrote.  

Representative were urged to iron out the issues right before it passed. Representative Jordan Harris expressed concerns about the law. He worried that one requirement in the law could essentially rob an individual of his/her right to due process. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Dan Moul, did not deny that, as written, the bill could be used as Harris feared, but he trusted that judges and district attorneys would not follow the law in those cases. (I’d like to think that there was a collective gasp in the chamber at the thought of lawyers and judges being expected to NOT follow the law, but the House recorder didn’t transcribe any.) Respectfully, Rep. Harris reminded his colleague, “…our job is to legislate, and that is what we are sent here to do on this day, to make sure that we close loopholes so that these problems will not arise (House Journal Page 1568-1569).”  His good advice went unheeded. 

It casts too wide of a net.

The law requires volunteers who have direct contact with a child OR is responsible for the welfare of a child to submit clearances every three years. That covers just about everyone, which is why homeschool parents who meet together in a cooperative now need clearances to be in the presence of each other’s children.  
So, what? Why not cast a wide net if it insures that we stop the bad guys? Because wide nets are ineffective. Wasting time and resources on clearances for people whose positions pose no risk detracts from the scrutiny that should be given to those who have a position of control over non-related children.   

It’s not the government’s responsibility to protect our children.

It’s our responsibility to protect our children. The government often assumes upon itself responsibilities that belong to the family, and historically, citizens have handed that authority over. Act 153 forces us to ask: should we relinquish the responsibility of discernment regarding associations we freely make and allow the government to place stipulations on those who invest time and talents in our children’s lives? We, as parents, have the right to ask private organizations with which we are involved to implement common sense protective policies, and if they fail to provide a safe environment, we have the right and responsibility to remove our children from that environment. We should not expect or rely upon government to do that for us except in government run institutions like public schools or the foster care system. It is an over-reach of power and a wrong assumption of responsibility for the government to impose these requirements on homeschool co-ops, scouting organizations and other privately run youth programs.  

It puts children who are at risk in more danger.

                Parents who have a criminal history will shy away from youth activities where their embarrassing pasts may be revealed through mandatory background checks. What if their record disqualifies them according to Act 153? They would then not be able to attend events with their own child.  In Cub Scouts, that would mean that they could not attend family events with their son or even help him at den meetings. The likely scenario would be that those parents will simply forgo scouts and other opportunities for their child which require that their own mistakes* be brought to light.   Would it not be better to have these families involved so that the children are not isolated? So that the parents, if they are reforming, can be supported? So that the children of unrepentant parents can have access to adults who will notice signs of abuse and call for help?  (*Let me be clear that I am not referring to convictions of child abuse as mere mistakes. Any crime that involved a substantiated CPS report should result in termination of the abuser’s parental rights, however, other felonies may not.)               

It places a heavy burden on volunteers.

I’m not talking about the inconvenience of the background checks now. Instead the burden to which I refer is the expectation that volunteers interpret evidence, question parents and act on a hunch WITHOUT the benefit of consulting leadership first. Everyone who works or volunteers around children is a mandatory reporter now.  The law threatens to prosecute anyone who fails to report reasonable suspicions of abuse directly to Childline.  
Of course, we should report child abuse, but what is “reasonable suspicion”?   In the light of hindsight, missed signs will seem much more reasonably suspicious. Do we want to trust that prosecutors will be reasonable or do we want our laws to insure that they will be? As the law is written now, the bar for reasonable suspicion will be set low by volunteers wishing to protect themselves against power of hindsight and against an overzealous prosecutor.  

What can you do? 

Get involved in the conversation. 
I have a Facebook page dedicated to all things Act 153.  “Like” the page so you can stay updated and so you can share your own insights about how and why the law should be amended.

Write your legislators.

     Ask them to:

v      withdraw background clearance mandates on volunteers in private organizations like churches, homeschool co-ops and scouts. Most of those organizations already had reasonable kid-safe practices in place including efficient and cost-effective background checks through third-parties. 
v      write into law a precise definition of “reasonable suspicion” and remove the requirement for volunteers to call Childline before consulting leadership." 

v      make an exemption for situations when parents remain on-site with their children

Spread the word.  
Share this blog and the Facebook link with your co-ops and support groups.   

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Senator Mario Scavello introduced Senate Bill 797 on May 28th that would require all students to receive a meningococcal booster in the 7th and 12th grades.  This bill has been referred to the Education Committee. 

Did you know?

·         Meningococcal Disease is very rare in the United States.[1]

·         At any given time, up to 20 to 40% of the population is asymptomatically colonizing meningococcal organisms in our nasal passages and throats, which boosts our innate immunity to invasive bacterial infection.[2] [3]

·         It is not easy to develop invasive meningococcal disease.[4]

·         By the time American children enter adolescence, the vast majority have asymptomatically developed immunity that protects them.

·         There are 5 distinct different types of meningitis.[5]

·         The CDC recommended meningococcal vaccine contains only one type, bacterial. 

·         Only 4 bacterial strains are covered (A, C, W-35, Y) in the vaccine.[6] 

·         The vaccine does not contain strain B, which is the strain associated with more than 50% of the meningococcal cases and deaths.[7]

·         The vaccine only has an 80-85% efficacy rate.[8]

·         The vaccine has been found to be, at best, only about 58% effective in adolescents within 2-5 years after receiving it.[9] [10]

·         Symptoms of meningococcal disease include: fever; severe headache; painful, stiff neck; nausea and vomiting; inability to look at bright lights; mental confusion and irritability; extreme fatigue/sleepiness; convulsions and unconsciousness.  

·         PA currently mandates 25 doses of 12 vaccines.[11]

·         The Meningococcal vaccine is currently available to anyone who would like to use it.

There are several concerns with this bill as it seeks to mandate another vaccine requirement for our school-aged children.  This mandate would violate informed medical consent and parental rights to decide what is best for our children’s care and overall well-being.

Given the information stated above, this bill is not necessary for the overall health of our adolescents.  Please contact the members of the Senate Education Committee to share your concerns regarding this bill.

[2] Tan L KK, Cadone GM, Borrow R. Advances in the development of vaccines against Neisseria meningitidis. NEJM April 22, 2010; 362(16): 1511-1520.
[3] Manchanda V. Gupta S., Bhalla P. Meningococcal Disease: History, Epidemiology, Pathogenesis, Clinical Manifestations, Diagnosis, Antiomicrobial Susceptibility and Prevention. Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology 2006; 24(1): 7-19
[4] CDC. Meningitis Questions & Answers.
[6] CDC.Meningococcal Disease and College Students. MMWR June 30, 2000; 48(RR07): 11-20.
[7] Granoff DM. Review of Meningococcal Group B Vaccines. Clinical Infectious Diseases
[9] CDC. Updated Recommendations for Use of Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccines – ACIP, 2010. JAMA 2011; 305(13): 1291-1293.
[10] Cohn A. Epidemiology of Meningococcal Disease in the U.S. Presentation to the FDA Vaccines & Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC). Transcript of April 6, 2011 Meeting. Pg 55-59.